Perspectives On Customers

Usually, one easily picks up the central concepts an organisation revolves around. A hospital deals with patients, doctors and nurses. A garage is all about cars. If we step back a little, more general terms come up easily: product, service, client, customer, worker, supplier, etc.




Perspectives ON Customers

But such simplicity and clarity can be deceptive. Even if, say, *customer* is central in a commercial business, this does not mean that every employee shares the same view of a customer. Far from it. Marketeers focus foremost on those who are not yet customers, but could be persuaded to become so. A salesperson perceives the client as a partner in a transaction, a deal to be closed. Those working in the fulfilment service think in terms of receiving parties with an address, waiting for goods or services. For helpdesk workers, clients have problems!

Perspectives OF Customers

Obviously, the customer has a Perspective, too. The customer is a Role in its own right; a Role in many of the Contexts that we describe an organisation with. It's only natural to model from the point of view of the customer, too.
A potential customer, orienting himself, is primarily interested in the products or services, their quality, their ratings, their price. The business figures in the background: it is the party that delivers the goods. As a matter of fact, clients nowadays quite often orient themselves on products *outside the immediate scope of a store*. A client might familiarise himself with a product through actions in a context where a store not even plays a role.




This changes as the potential customer is about to buy a product. Then, the shop comes into view as a party that asks a price - over which can be haggled, maybe, or possibly coupons come into play. When the deal has been closed, the customer sees the shop in terms of delivery: a deal has been made, money has been paid - deliver! In this context it is all about date, time and place. Finally, after delivery and possibly after some time of use, a customer expects service. The shop now is a party that has delivered but still has to answer to some responsibilities.

Perspectives are the Actions of Roles in Contexts.

As Actions can be defined in terms of simple Subject-Verb-Object sentences - where the Subject is a user Role - the Perspective of a Role can be presented as a structured text. The objects - Roles themselves - bring us to what is commonly understood as "Information", in IT. When 'a salesperson closes a deal', the "deal" is an object, a role, with *Properties*.

Now a Role may have many, many properties, most of which have no significance for a given Action of a Role. Think of a salesperson sending a contract to a customer. For such an action, address information of the customer is relevant. But all sorts of other customer properties, such as his age, social-economic status, gender, etc. are irrelevant when sending a letter. We call a group of properties that is relevant for some Action, a *View* on a Role. So, when we define an Action with an object, we always add a View on that object, too.

From Users to Actions to Views to Properties

Adding two and two together, it is easy to see that a Perspective completely determines the information that should be available to a particular user Role. By a two-step process, first from Role to Action, then from the Action's object to a View, we collect all properties on all Roles that a user Role deals with in a Context.
Notice how we have it completely backwards, in the opinion of classical IT: instead of starting with the entities and properties (data), it only comes into view at the end of the modelling process! And instead of designing the information structure around the things that a company deals with, and then only at the end modelling access control in terms of profiles or roles, we start with the roles and especially the user roles!

Digital Transformation

In all these Contexts, the customer has a Perspective. Together, these Contexts and Perspectives make up the customer's 'journey'. There is a loose chronological order in these Contexts. But any customer might go back and forth between, say, orienting and buying. We can capture an important goal of 'Digital Transformation' in these terms. The customer must be able to recognise the Context he operates in; he must be able to move smoothly between those Contexts; he must be able to perceive the state such a Context is in (has the order been paid? Has a delivery date been set?). Not only the customer's Role must have continuity over these Contexts; so, too, must be the Role that represents the Product. And last, but not at all least, the Roles of personel.


Transformational Perspectives

Usually, Digital Transformation is understood as a process of change that ensures that an organisation, in all its departments, can offer an integrated approach to a customer, during his 'journey'. This requires an intelligent interplay between Front- and Backend services.

Modelling with Perspectives is a natural approach to such a transformation. As the name implies, each Perspective is modelled. Not just that of a particular department in the organisation, say, Sales, or Delivery. The Perspective of every employee dealing with a customer is modelled and so is, in each situation (Context) the customer's Perspective. In Contexts the Perspectives of customers and employees come together.

An employee Perspective, in any of these Contexts, must have the Actions that a Customer expects him to have. When dealing with a Helpdesk employee, the Customer expects him to be able to look up the delivery date of his product. This in turn fixes what information this employee must have access to.